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Creators scores exclusive contract with Sun Media

Creators Syndicate has locked up five major Canadian dailies, becoming the exclusive provider of comic features for the Toronto Sun, Edmonton Sun, Ottawa Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Calgary Sun. All five papers print in tabloid form and are part of the Sun Media chain. The decision to go with a single syndicate was a business decision by Glenn Garnett Vice President, Editorial at Sun Media Corporation.

“We’re looking for efficiencies,” Garnett said. “We share pagination between the five urban papers and this also reduces the print rights we need to secure in each of those markets.”

Margo Sugrue, National Sales Director for Creators, orchestrated the deal for Creators. “We’re thinking of the newspapers. If the newspapers don’t survive, we don’t survive. Group deals save them money. They don’t have to pay all the different syndicate fees that come with al-a-carte approach.” Sugrue’s approach was to offer Sun Media a “good deal at an attractive rate for one delivery for five major markets.”

The Sun papers have been running Rubes, Strange Brew, Zack Hill, The Barn, Agnes, Daddy’s Home, On a Claire Day, Doug Eat Doug, and Scary Gary for about two weeks now.

While some fans of other comics from other syndicates might be disappointed, Garnett says there hasn’t been any major complaints from readers apart from the few that were anticipated.

Community Comments

#1 Quint Nelson
March/5/2009
@ 4:59 pm

The Sun newspapers are getting creamed by their readers. They are very angry about this numbskull move. Mr Garnett doesn’t give a damn about the readers. He only cares about money.

#2 Anne Hambrock
March/5/2009
@ 5:43 pm

I hope they continue to get creamed. This sounds like a short term solution to a long term problem and it will bite them.

#3 Stacy Curtis
March/5/2009
@ 6:01 pm

You’ve driven people who want to see Ziggy in their daily newspaper straight to the internet and while they’re there, that’s where they’ll get their daily news too…..for free.

#4 Sandra Bell-Lundy
March/5/2009
@ 6:09 pm

I wonder if they’re printing the responses from upset readers in their paper. Doesn’t sound like it.

#5 Mike Cope
March/5/2009
@ 6:36 pm

I wonder how many Canadians are syndicated by Creators? They didn’t even reply to my last submission.

#6 Charles Brubaker
March/5/2009
@ 6:44 pm

“wonder how many Canadians are syndicated by Creators? They didn?t even reply to my last submission.”

“The Barn” is done by a Canadian cartoonist, Ralph Hagen.

“Chuckle Bros.” is also Canadian. It’s actually syndicated through a Canadian company; Creators only distributes it to US papers.

#7 Mike Peterson
March/5/2009
@ 7:51 pm

The syndicates are in a race to see who can give it away the fastest. Creators is offering free comics, at least on line, to newspapers, and King has a fairly cheap package that includes comics and other features.

“Giving it away! It’s not just for the news section anymore!”

Man, y’all better get some book deals together.

#8 Stacy Curtis
March/5/2009
@ 10:30 pm

Mike Petereson: “Man, y?all better get some book deals together.”

Can you explain that statement??

#9 Stacy Curtis
March/5/2009
@ 10:31 pm

I apologize I made a typo in your name, Mike PETERSON.

#10 Robert Stone
March/6/2009
@ 1:35 am

Creators has always been known as the bottom feeders of the syndicate world, just ask any editor. They give their content away at fire sale prices. As a result, their talent gets short changed in the marketplace. They are a good fit for the Toronto Sun Company, which doesn’t value quality, only maximum profit. Just look at one of their papers, they are a joke.

#11 Mike Peterson
March/6/2009
@ 3:09 am

Books are sold for money. If you sell some books, you get to keep some of that money.

Strips are, increasingly, being given away for no-money. You get to keep a percentage of that no-money, too, but you can only use it to purchase no-food, no-clothes and no-shelter.

I didn’t think I was being that cryptic.

#12 Mark Tatulli
March/6/2009
@ 7:33 am

“Group deals save them money. They don?t have to pay all the different syndicate fees that come with al-a-carte approach.?

Apparently Margo Sugrue prefers the $9.95 all-you-can-eat buffet approach.

#13 Mike Cope
March/6/2009
@ 8:22 am

I’m not sure about the other Sun papers, but Toronto?s has never been known for its comics section … This is why most peek inside.

#14 Jim Lavery
March/6/2009
@ 9:06 am

Could you explain cryptic?

#15 Quint Nelson
March/6/2009
@ 9:50 am

He’s refering to the fact that the Sun newspaper’s run a photo of a bikini clad woman inside the first few pages of the paper. It’s a trick they picked up from the London tabs. It’s a slimey move to grab single copy sales off the newsstand, but it’s time has past since the internet feeds up porn by the bushels full.
The Sun newspapers target those people who are either sports or scandal obsessed. They don’t value serious journalism or quality writing. They are a failing newspaper chain that will eventually go out of business, and after this move with Creators, the sooner the better.

#16 Stacy Curtis
March/6/2009
@ 2:11 pm

Sorry, Mike, I just wanted you to clarify your statement.

You make it sound like there’s a line for book deals somewhere … like publishers are just handing them out to any cartoonist who happens to have some cartoons in their hand and they find the book deals line.

I don’t know where these books are that you’re talking about. If you go to Borders or Barnes & Noble, the books in the Humor section are dwindling. Back in the day, you could find lots of comics collections there, now, not so much.

#17 Mike Peterson
March/6/2009
@ 2:47 pm

Books are healthier than newspapers, and, to remove the sarcasm for the moment, those who do have a print following should probably figure out a way to cash in on it before the whole system collapses. That could include some self-publishing, if the publishing houses aren’t interested, or maybe even if they are.

And I would say that comic strip collections are enough of a niche publication that I’m not too concerned about what is on the shelves at the stores — if you have a following, you can find a way to market them even without generous shelf space.

Example: If Jimmy Johnson got an Arlo & Janis collection together, he’d have no trouble selling a comfortable number of copies — even though his fan base isn’t of “Peanuts” or “Garfield” proportions, it is devoted and he’s done a reasonable job of building a sizeable little community around his blog.

#18 Mark Buford
March/6/2009
@ 8:14 pm

I’d gladly give up my spot in the Sun for a date with the SUNshine girl.

#19 Stacy Curtis
March/6/2009
@ 10:00 pm

Jimmy Johnson is a great example, Mike.

Let’s say Jimmy self-publishes an Arlo & Janis book and puts it up on his blog for sale. I do think a good number of his blog readers would buy the book. I know I would. The big question is would the syndicate demand a cut of the profits? At that point, would it be worth doing?

#20 Chris Fournier
March/6/2009
@ 10:30 pm

I second what Mike Cope said in that The Sun has never had a great comics section, I wouldn’t even say they have a good one.

The Toronto Star seems to get it right….of course they have “Between Friends” so it’s worth the read for that reason alone.

Nice plug, eh Sandra? :)

Quint, you raise a good point about Mr. Garnett not caring about his readers and only looking out for the bottom line…truth be told, however, in this economy he HAS to look out for the bottom line if he wants the franchise to survive.

#21 Quint Nelson
March/7/2009
@ 12:30 am

The Sun is a failing newspaper chain. They’ve focused on the working class reader for years by featuring sensational stories and scandal, coupled with Sports coverage. These less educated readers have abandoned newspapers in recent years, so instead of elevating the Sun newspapers’ content, they decide to go even lower…if that’s possible. Garnett’s recent moves prove that the chain is tanking. By force feeding Creators’ cheap stuff, they will fail sooner. They don’t care about their readers at all.
The Sun cancelled Zits and Baby Blues, then replace it with Agnes and Scary Gary. Now that’s just plain stupid. Bye, bye Sun Newspapers.

#22 Wiley Miller
March/7/2009
@ 9:10 am

?We?re looking for efficiencies,? Garnett said. ?We share pagination between the five urban papers and this also reduces the print rights we need to secure in each of those markets.?

Translation:
All comic strips are alike to editors.

“While some fans of other comics from other syndicates might be disappointed, Garnett says there hasn?t been any major complaints from readers apart from the few that were anticipated.”

Translation:
They don’t care what the reader reaction is.

#23 Robert Stone
March/7/2009
@ 2:39 pm

The fact is, the Sun papers have ignored the readers’ complaints. One paper shut off their phones. Simply put, the Sun newspapers don’t give a damn about their readers and Garnett is a corporate weasel. Let’s hope bankruptcy wipes the whole lot of them out. Garnett is an example of the worst kind of corporate hack. Newspaper chains should rid themselves of these kind of selfish bafoons before their publications disappear.

#24 Rick Newcombe
March/9/2009
@ 12:15 pm

I have never written to The Daily Cartoonist, but I feel compelled to do so now because of some of the uninformed comments made about Creators Syndicate.

Our rates for new sales are competitive with all other syndicates, as any newspaper editor will tell you.

The comic strips that have been around for many decades, getting annual rate increases, are the highest items on a newspaper’s invoice. They are also the most vulnerable to cancellation in these economic times.

The comic strips sold at lower prices are typically new features that lack a proven track record. All of the syndicates want to get their strips exposure, so we all frequently offer slightly lower rates on new sales.

Cartoonists with Creators Syndicate have won dozens of Reuben awards and more Pulitzer Prizes than any other syndicate.

The Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star are both fine newspaper companies and are doing what they have to do to succeed in this brutal marketplace, while so many newspapers in the United States are in bankruptcy or have been shut down.

As for our “giving away” comics on the internet, we are offering a revenue sharing program with online newspapers and websites in which they keep the revenue from their ad and we (meaning the syndicate and the cartoonist) keep the revenue from our ad. We have just started this program, but I am very confident that it will result in substantial royalties for all of our cartoonists in the years to come.

In the meanwhile, just ask some of our cartoonists, such as Leigh Rubin, Jerry Van Amerongen, Dave Coverly, Adrian Raeside (who is, indicdentally, another Canadian cartoonist) or the legendary Morrie Turner how they feel about having their work suddenly appear every day in the online edition of the Arizona Republic, where millions of readers are seeing their cartoons.

Our goal and theirs is to see their work in thousands of websites, with a combined total of hundreds of millions of readers and much more revenue than they would receive if we were charging flat weekly rates.

Like it or not, nearly every newspaper editor in the country is focused on new media, as is Creators Syndicate. The ones who care only about print will go the way of the horse-and-buggy makers of a century ago.

#25 Evan Rodgers
March/19/2009
@ 2:20 am

I’m amazed to read the rubbish put forth by the owner of Creators Syndicate. He justifies his actions of low balling rates to ensure his own survival in the future, yet he destroys a fair rate structure in the present that keeps artists’ livelihoods viable. Anyone can sell on the cheap, but once they start the process, the end will cetainly come sooner than later for the entire industry.

I have to say that Agnes certainly should be charging 75% less the rate than the rate Zits gets because it isn’t a tenth of the strip Zits is in quality. There’s ittle consulation to the creator of Zits and its fans in Canada that won’t be able to read it in one of the low rent Sun Newspapers.

#26 Rick Newcombe
March/24/2009
@ 11:02 pm

From a Reuters story dated March 24, 2009:

Newspaper subscriptions and advertising have shrunk dramatically in the past few years as Americans have turned more and more to the Internet or television for information.

In recent months, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News, the Baltimore Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle have ceased daily publication or announced that they may have to stop publishing.

In December the Tribune Company, which owns a number of newspapers including The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times filed for bankruptcy protection.

Two newspaper chains, Gannett Co Inc and Advance Publications, on Monday announced employee furloughs. It will be the second furlough this year at Gannett.

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